• Whether the pitcher hits the rock, or the rock hits the pitcher, it's going to be pretty bad for the pitcher. - Sancho Panza, in Don Quixote

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I want to explain my own appreciation for the Twilight series, to contrast with all those who have just recently jumped on the Screaming Phangirl bandwagon. It seems like a lot of the very loud buzz is coming from people who either picked up the book or went to the movie because they've been hearing from raving fans about how good it is. I'm very much the opposite, I tend to move away from things that someone tells me "You've GOT to read/watch/listen to this!"

I first heard about Twilight from an 11-year-old girl who is an obsessive reader, who I knew had already read many of my own favorite books. We were hanging out in a bookstore, and she wanted to pick up a copy of one of the Twilight books even though she already had the book, because the new one contained a preview chapter from the next book which wasn't out yet.

We talked a little about the story, and I began expressing my issues with all the vampire love stories that have spread through popular culture. I don't like the perspective these books show on the world, they always seem to show the worst of human nature, with people giving in to their passions at the expense of all around them, with evil winning the day, good guys being corrupted by evil and ending up as bad as the worst of them.

She protested that this book was different, but I was skeptical, because she is after all just a kid. Finally last summer she badgered me into reading the first book, Twilight, "just so you know what it's about and who the characters are."

So, I read it, and I love it. And here is why:
The characters are real people, fully developed. The writing is strong, it creates vivid pictures in my mind and makes the 'Twilight universe' real as I read it. There is definitely an emphasis on what I consider good things: successful resistance of temptation, doing better than expectations, good winning over evil, redemption.

Luckily for me, I started the series just before the fourth and final book came out, so I could read it all in one wonderful long summer. So my overall first impression is of the entire story. And this is my final assessment:

The four Twilight books are simply: fairy tales. The good kind, but set very believably in our modern world. So just like people a thousand years ago who told the original "fairy tales" that we now know of from the Grimms Brothers, we can hear these stories and imagine the charactors in the world around us. And feel good about our world, because in these stories good wins over evil, virtue triumphs, all the people you want to win do win, success is possible, and hope is justified.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Shopping versus Buying: fun versus consumptive consumerism

I try hard to rein in my disgruntlement with what is going on between spendthrift financial corporations and the US Federal Government. If you want to know what I think just take a moment for some free-fall mental grumblisms - and ask me privately what my thoughts are. Most everyone knows I won't respond to comments here, it's all I can do to control my political incorrectness in posts.

So, here is how someone has lived and been happy without going into bankruptcy.

Whatever kind of 'learning-style' consumer you are, someone somehow is messaging you that a particular THING that they happen to sell is JUST WHAT YOU LOVE. And someone else is telling you that if you truly love something you must have it/marry it/embalm it/keep it forever.

What's a girl with limited space and no tolerance for long-term commitments to do?

Here's a stranger but somehow more concrete idea:

I have two parakeets, they are 'free-range' but I promise not to eat them! they are not confined to their cage, that's all. So, they have each other if they truly want a real companion. And, they do spend a good amount of time with each other chatting, or bickering, or just hanging out in the same 1 ft cubic space.d

But, we have mirrors for them, with convenient perches. And they spend a LOT of their time fixated on the 'parakeet in the mirror' - in fact one is right now putting a lot of energy into clinging to a mirror suspended from the ceiling, hanging upside down so she has to twist her head backwards to see and attack/bicker with/feed the parakeet in the mirror.

Angela (parakeet) isn't interested in reality, in really connecting with or hanging with that 'thing' on the other side of the display case. When she can be happy with reality, she has Pedro. But something about the elusive 'on display' is more attractive at times.

I too feel the pull of what is behind the glass, so beautifully arranged. Yes, it is done so as to show me in my perfected state, or at least my perfected surroundings. (it begs the question, does stuff sell more when it has mirrors in the display?) But I have 40 years more experience with life than my parakeets, and I have broken the barrier and taken possession of the thing on the other side of the barrier so many times that I have a little different perspective on what actually will give me satisfaction; I have learned that once I get the 'magic thing' behind Door Number 1 it becomes "stuff." And I now spend much of my life getting rid of 'stuff.'

Then, a friend set me free. "There can be stuff in the world that you don't own, it is OK!" she said as we left a garage sale without purchasing anything.

Things that have a price tag on them are very beautiful. "Stuff" has much less beauty. So, I have finally learned to enjoy beauty without destroying it, to appreciate beautiful things without purchasing them.

In short, now I SHOP, I don't buy.